Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Redux #40 - "Idyll Banter" by Chris Bohjalian

I found Idyll Banter (2004) by Chris Bohjalian as I was searching through the library's catalog, looking for something new to read. I've read Midwives, so I recognized the author's name; and having just finished Annie Proulx's short stories, I was ready for something a little less heartbreaking and traumatizing.

I've only known Bohjalian as a fiction writer, so I didn't really know what to expect. Idyll Banter is composed of many short, non-fiction articles that Bohjalian wrote for a local newspaper about his little town of Lincoln, Vermont. After giving up on city life and moving from Brooklyn (or Manhattan?) to Lincoln with his wife, Bohjalian has stayed there, raised his daughter, and fell in love with it.

Both the tone of the stories as well as their content reminded me of the small, close-knit but eccentric community from Gilmore Girls. Bohjalian paints a picture of a happy, idyllic town where the pace is a little slower and people still watch out for their neighbors. Perhaps someone a little more cynical than me could--rightfully--call this book a bit on the syrupy and sentimental side. However, the stories were entertaining and often amusing. It is obvious that Bohjalian has a great deal of affection for his adopted home and it comes across easily in his writing. Although it wasn't life changing, this wasn't a hard book to read or finish, and it made me feel good about some places and people in the world.

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